They Still Got It: Aging Legends of Burlesque Captured in Photographs

Stephanie Diani - Photography

Satan’s Angel

Stephanie Diani - Photography

Big Fannie Annie

Stephanie Diani - Photography

Candy Baby Caramelo

Stephanie Diani - Photography

Dusty Summers

Since living in Baltimore, I’ve had the chance to attend several burlesque shows and enjoyed them all. I’ve seen performers of all ages, including a few older women, which is often my favorite part of the show; I love seeing these women confident about their bodies, especially in a society that values youth. A photography series by Stephanie Diani captures this same idea. She photographed The Legends of Burlesque, an older group of women burlesque dancers. Diani found these women when she visited the Miss Exotic World pageant many years ago. They made an impression on the photographer, and years later she sought these woman for her project.

All the women photographed are septuagenarians, and performed in burlesque shows well after turning 50, 60, or 70. Even at this age, they still exude a mature sexuality and eroticism. In each portrait, Diani had the women pose for pictures in their favorite Burlesque ensembles or meaningful garment. The resulting images portray glitzy, over-the-top outfits, complete with feathers, fur, beading, and jewels. This is an amusing juxtaposition with their homes, which, not surprisingly, are reminiscent of your grandmother’s home. Each woman looks self-assured and strong, and it isn’t an act. Diani remarks about the women on the Slate photo blog, Behold:

I loved spending time with the women: they were wry and smart and playful. In June 2009, I photographed Hall of Fame legend Big Fannie Annie, by her own account 450 pounds of sizzling sex, in a hotel room in Vegas where she and Satan’s Angel were getting ready to perform during over Hall of Fame weekend. Angel asked Fannie: ‘Do you have any of that cum-in-a-can I can use?’ — a reference to the industrial strength hairspray that is an essential tool of their trade. Another, Toni Elling, took her name from Duke Ellington, whom she used to know. (via Huffington Post)

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Frieke Janssens Pre-Mortem Memorial Portraits

Frieke Janssens-Photography Frieke Janssens-PhotographyFrieke Janssens-Photography

Have you ever thought about how people will remember you when you are gone? Do you wish to be remembered in a particular way? Perhaps with a specific outfit, or at a specific age? Why would you have someone else choose the picture? You have a choice while you are alive.

Belgian photographer Frieke Janssens is offering her services in order to create the ultimate headshot, the one that you would like on your grave and everyone’s minds once you’ve past away.

The eerie yet beautiful and polished headshots are Janssens’ way to change people’s mindsets when it comes to ideas of death and memory. The series of ‘Your Last Shot’  reflects a combination of the sitter’s wishes and the photographer’s style. With make up assistance, styling and post-production, Jenssen creates master portraits that defy the ugliness that death brings about. In a sense, having a say on what you’ll look like to those alive when you are dead is a way to take control. This will perhaps leave us a bit more at ease about the whole death process.

The ‘last portrait’ will be finished in porcelain so that it can actually be used when the time comes.

“My personal preference goes to static portraits as they were taken at the occasion of weddings at the beginning of the 20th century. My aim is to make an iconic portrait that is beautiful, serene and fearless, preferably with a gentle smile, indicating that the model is clearly aware of the fact that this portrait will be used for a very long time to come.”

You can check the project’s website to find out more on how you can participate- it is a limited time thing,so if you want in, go check it out now!

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Hannah Price’s Portraits Of The Men Who Who Catcall Her

Hannah Price- Photography Hannah Price- Photography Hannah Price- Photography

African-Mexican-American photographer Hannah Price reverses the power of the male gaze through capturing spontaneous photographs of men that catcall her. Through them, Price transforms these men’s taunts into an exercise of reflection and observation.

“This project is a work in progress documenting a part of my life as an African-Mexican-American, transitioning from suburban Colorado to consistently being harassed on the streets of Philadelphia. These images are a response to my subjects looking at me, and myself as an artist looking back.”

The bold project is neither a judgment on men nor a comment on race, but it is certainly a way for her to take control of a situation that she would not be able to control otherwise. Through her camera, she captures the actions of her ‘suitors’ in a precise and spontaneous way, and although she is taking control, she does not intend for her actions to cause these men to reconsider their actions. In a sense, she wants them to be themselves; this is the only way for her to further understand their behavior and find the humanity that lies within their actions…if there is any. (via feature shoot)

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Diane Arbus: Photographing Freaks Or The Costumes We Wear Year-Round

Diane Arbus - Photography

Diane Arbus - Photography Diane Arbus - Photography

Diane Arbus - Photography

As we wave goodbye to Halloween, let’s take a minute to mediate on the innately striking work of Diane Arbus and her unbiased approach to documenting not just the spookier side of humanity, but even more so, the masks or costumes we present to the world as a species, as human beings, as ourselves . . . year-round.

Now, when I use the word “unbiased” here I am not suggesting Arbus’s eye is roaming and invisible. Quite the contrary. Her eye is always distinctly there: focused, from one frame to the next. This “unbiased” quality has more to do with her indiscriminate examination of each subject in the same oddly intimate and unflinching way– regardless of class, age, gender, sexual preference, or race. In other words, a child with a toy hand grenade in the park looks equally as strange as the a woman lounging next to a toy poodle or a handful of residents dressed up on Halloween at a home for the mentally retarded. No one person, group, or act is more privileged. No one is all the more beautiful. We are all playing dress-up as far as identity and image is concerned.

By seeking out each individual’s innate desire to present him or herself and critically or creatively twisting that into her own perception of costume in each person’s presentation, Arbus became not just a photographer, but an alchemist, shifting our ideas of self, reality, and personal intention. Whether you are a part of celebrity culture or a more marginalized society spread out along the fringe, Arbus’s certain way of looking did not glorify one way of living over the other.

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Sara Cwynar’s Photographs Still Lifes Made of Junk

Sara Cwynar - Photography

Sara Cwynar - Photography Sara Cwynar - Photography

The exact color of that Ginger Ale can is important to artist Sara Cwynar. Her work revolves around the careful curation of both fantastic and banal objects. She arranges and later photographs these assemblages, which range from color studies to chaotic interpretations of old works of art.

You might be familiar with 16th and 17th century Dutch Flower paintings. If not, then they are exactly as they sound; Still life paintings of flower arrangements. They are colorful and realistically rendered pictures. Their realism is almost boring, until you find out that these paintings were meant to brighten up the interior of homes during the winter months when real flowers were dead. In her Flat Death series, Cwynar took old reproduced pictures of these flowers and overtop placed it with the likes of cheap plastic toys, fake leaves, rolls of tape, and dish gloves.  A sophisticated painting is recreated out of junk, creating a cognitive dissonance.

Color Studies is another still life series. Instead of parodying of an already existing work, Cwynar gathers objects of a similar color. They include old marching band uniforms, encyclopedias, lemons, old slide film, cigarettes, and so much more. Photographs feel really dated, like a teenager’s room in the 1970’s. This is Cwynar’s intention. In an interview with Lavalette, she states:

I thought a lot about the aesthetic patterns you see in these pictures – a particular lighting, a slickness, a high level of detail. I’m also trying to recycle and subvert conventions of product and commercial photography by using elements that aren’t normally associated with these genres – objects that are now discarded or forgotten, intentional scuffing, not glossy at all.

It’s easy to be intrigued by Cwynar’s work. She utilizes conventional objects and through assemblage, allows us to experience them in a new way.

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Aldo Tolino’s Folded Photographs Transformed Into Geometric Sculptures

Sculpture

folded photographs

photograph sculptures

Austrian artist, Aldo Tolino, creates sculptural objects out of printed photographs. The printed-photograph-turned-sculpture is then photographed, and the end ‘result’ is what you see here.

The folding techniques vary and so do the photographs; this is what makes the work interesting, as there are infinite number of permutations that will work for this purpose. The redundancy of the project is much like a philosophical argument, one that loops around and is at some point, unanswerable.

The fact that the folded photograph is photographed is also an interesting factor, as it creates and thought-provoking dialogue between both the precision and the inaccuracy that the medium of photography inherits through time.

Besides being an artist, Tolino is also a philosopher and he is currently working on a book project called Interferenz, which precisely deals with the themes explored here: paper, folding, image, object, sculpture, texture and recursion. (via IGNANT)

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Filip Dujardin’s Fictional Photographs Of Real Buildings

Filip Dujardin - Photograph

Filip Dujardin - Photograph

Filip Dujardin - Photograph

Filip Dujardin photographs buildings that are post modern and mundane. They are nondescript and unassuming. He has a way of spicing things up, though. With the help of Photoshop, Dujardin uses these photos and remixes them into structures we’ve never seen before and could never exist in our world. His series of images, titled Fictions, is just that, but done so seamlessly and with such mastery that we might think they are real.

Dujardin’s work contains some spectacular things. Buildings are labyrinths and Escher-eque in their construction. You could travel the same path over and over again, but never get anywhere. Oh well, who cares? You probably can’t even get inside. They don’t have entrances; they are simply a mass of siding and concrete.

Dujardin’s architecture is a mass of things that we love looking at buildings.  Surface decoration is more important than structural integrity. Take, for instance, the windows. In multiple photographs, he’s adorned building with all different factory-style windows.The varying color and size is a design decision, and he places them in clusters. Likewise, he uses the repeating of balconies, ducts, and vents to create patterns. Metal siding is collaged based on color combination than anything having to do with an actual building.

We can try to apply logic to Dujardin’s structures. We’re probably familiar with these types of buildings, and expect them to look a certain way. But, with Dujardin’s doctored photographs, we cannot. Instead, we can admire them for the fantasy that they are.

After gazing at Dujardin’s work for awhile, it occurs to that this series was probably a lot of fun to create. It’s the digital equivalent of playing with Legos. There are a lot of pieces, and with the help of Photoshop you can cut them up, flip them, and arrange them however you wish.

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Andres Serrano And Three Other Artists Make Work About Death

Andres Serrano

Andres Serrano

Tereza Zelenkova

Tereza Zelenkova

Berlinde De Bruyckere

Berlinde De Bruyckere

Death becomes us all eventually, as we are exploring in the works covered in this two part article.  In light of the Halloween season, and the historical implications of death of this season, we are highlighting artists who create work that addresses or is informed by death and dying.  Part 1 included and discussed the works of Damien Hirst, Doris Salcedo, Angelo Filomeno, Konrad Smolenski and Joel Peter Witkin.  Here we examine the work of Andres Serrano, Berlinde De Bruyckere, Tereza Zelenkova and Oskar Dawicki.

Andres Serrano has built a reputation creating imagery that is shocking and confronts the viewer with heavy content, unapologetically.  His series on death takes this to the next level. Each image, a close-up intimate composition of the deceased subject, is titled according to the cause of death.  The Death Series functions as a mirror of our own mortality, delivered rawly and beautifully in rich colors and blank stares.

The work of Berlinde De Bruyckere is rough and organic, abstractly anatomical and animalistic in delivery.  The artist’s sculptural work emanates a quality that lies somewhere between a murder scene and a meat locker.  De Bruyckere’s pieces have a realistic quality of flesh torn apart yet are executed with fairly common artistic materials such as wax, wood, iron, cotton and wool is captivating.

Tereza Zelenkova created a series entitled Supreme Vice during a journey through the deserts of the Southwest.  Captured in the bleakest and most barren of environments, Zelenkova’s photographic works meditate on death through a poetic narrative that seems to address a spiritual continuum that overlaps life and death and creates a bridge between the two polarities.  The black and white series, that spans grey areas of mortality, is bound in a book, also entitled Supreme Vice.

The obituary series by Oskar Dawicki which was first exhibited in 2004 in a show aptly titled “The end of the world by accident” is far more ironic than the previously mentioned works.  The photographic works capture collages Dawicki assembled of actual obituaries he discovered in the newspaper.  The names of the deceased in the images appear to be celebrities and other famous figures at first glance.  The works toy with the spectrum of perception of significance in the value of human life and death.

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